Trucks are massive vehicles and often travel at high speeds on the highways. Not surprisingly, accidents can happen – and when they do occur, they can be very serious and lead to extensive injuries or fatalities of the victims. A collision with a fast-moving truck can send smaller vehicles flying and cause devastating consequences.
Many truck drivers travel over vast distances during the night, which also increases the risk of accidents. Driver fatigue, carelessness and poor safety visibility can cause a number of issues. In order to avoid accidents and the resultant liability, truck drivers are required to make sure their trucks are visible on the road.
Why is Visibility Such a Concern?
Even large vehicles, like trucks, can be almost invisible on a dark road at night. These trucks may be travelling through remote areas that aren’t as well-controlled or well-lit as city street. If there are no reflectors or lights to improve visibility, the trucks can pose a risk to other vehicles on the road. If the trucks have the necessary safety visibility stripes and reflectors on them, they’ll be visible from a distance, so other drivers on the road can take appropriate steps to drive more cautiously on the road or steer out of the way.
In fact, trucks without proper lights and reflectors are three times more likely to get involved in accidents. If a truck is not properly marked, the owner may be liable if an accident occurs. Even if the accident is someone else’s fault, the truck driver can be held liable if they don’t have proper safety and visibility markings on your vehicle.
Truck drivers are also required to follow certain safety procedures. They need safety visibility if their truck becomes disabled or stalls in the middle of the road and they have to park it. They must get the truck completely off the road and away from on-coming traffic and also ensure other drivers can see their parked truck – that it is visible to other drivers from a distance, so they can slow down in order to pass it safely.
Truck drivers are required to place the visible signs around the truck to establish a safe perimeter. This is to ensure that all other vehicles can pass by safely, and it minimizes the risk of collisions.
Truck Drivers are Required by Law to Follow Certain Safety Measures
When truck drivers stop on the roadsides or stall on the road, the drivers are legally required to follow a set procedure and park their vehicle in a specific manner. Most trucking companies must properly train their drivers carefully to ensure they follow these procedures. These drivers also attend refresher courses to ensure they remember their legal obligations and know how to secure their vehicles well.
Here are some of the safety measures truck drivers must take in order to avoid being a danger to other motorists:
• The truck driver must switch on their emergency hazard lights to ensure that the stalled truck is visible from a long distance.
• The truck driver then must set up three physical warning signs around the truck. These signs should be spaced according to the flow of traffic and length of the road, to get maximum visibility. This warns approaching drivers of the truck’s presence so they know to proceed with caution.
• The truck drivers must also place triangle-shaped reflectors on the vehicle in visible areas. These reflectors are red in color and made of plastic. Drivers are required to carry them in their trucks to ensure they’re always available in case of an emergency.
• Alternatively, drivers can also use roadside flares. These flares are bright and highly visible as they produce active flames.
If truck drivers fail to follow these safety precautions, they may be held liable for any accidents that occur as a result.
Why Reflector Tapes are Essential
According to a study conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reflector tapes are responsible for a 44% drop in accident rates in passenger vehicles as well as tractor trailers. This study can be easily applied to trucks and semi trucks as well. Semi trucks and vehicles with extended trailers need to have sufficient reflector tape on them.
If the other drivers on the same road can see the dimensions of the truck and the trailer as they approach behind it, they will know just how big it is, and that will help them drive around the vehicle more safely. Reflector tape should be affixed on top of the trailers, around the doors and windows, along the length of the trailer and truck, as well as along the back. These tapes reflect light so they will be easily visible when the lights of an oncoming vehicle shine on them.
What Should You Do If You’re Involved in an Accident with a Tractor-Trailer?
If you’re involved in an accident, you need to make sure you protect your interests. If your are physically able, you should call the authorities immediately and secure your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in a safe place to avoid other accidents.
Once you are able to call the authorities, call a lawyer who specializes in truck accident cases. Oftentimes, trucking companies, or their insurance carriers will send experts to the scene as soon as possible to begin taking photographs and preserving evidence. If you are able, you should take your own photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved.
Finally, never settle your case with the trucking company or their insurance carrier until you have spoken to an experienced accident attorney. Trucking companies usually have good legal professionals on hand. If you are in an accident with a truck driver, find a legal professional to represent you before you speak to the trucking company or their legal team.
A legal professional will help determine liability and ensure both parties can come to a fair settlement.